Saturday, January 16, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti: People Are Generous, Obstacles Are Many

I think we in Kansas City think of Heart to Heart International as our very own charity, even though their work is national and international in scope. Founded by a Johnson County physician, Heart to Heart has worked with intensity, efficiency and well, heart on behalf of people all around the world in medical need. Since about Wednesday, the Kansas City metro and Heart to Heart International have been working to gather what is needed to help Haiti. Some links from local newsies:

A chance to get "hands on": Event to Make Care Packages. Folks will be getting together at Scion Labs at 18th and Oak from 3 pm to 6 pm on Sunday, January 18th to make Heart to Heart hygiene packs.

KPRS Hot 103 JAMS is having a radiothon fund raiser at the Blue Ridge Crossing Wal-Mart on Monday from 06-18 (6a-6p). Check the link for more info.

This report from two Haitian members of the Church of the Nazarene is short but compelling. One of the men states that it is very difficult to find food: "If we find a sweet potato or a banana we eat it." and in the simple manner of one for whom English is a second or third language, "The smell of death is a major problem now."

Let a professional address some of the issues that are keeping aid from the people thus far; Capt. Schmoe teaches us about search and rescue, and reminds us about logistics here and here.

I know it is profoundly dismaying to people that aid is not getting through. Of course, the victims of the earthquake are hurting; they are hungry and thirsty and wondering where everybody is. We, as ones who want to help, are frustrated by the lack of results of our efforts to give to those with such urgent need. However the reality is that the airport was damaged, and air and ground traffic control was nil for several days until the Haitian government gave permission for the United States to take over the whole thing. The ports will require extensive repair. All land routes from the Dominican Republic are traffic jammed. The streets of the urban areas in and around Port-au-Prince are full of obstacles--bodies, damaged buildings, people living in the spaces, damaged cars. We cannot just fly over in helicopters and drop stuff--looting, rioting and fighting, already occurring over damaged food and fuel assets in the country would be even worse. Don't listen to those who would politicize this rescue effort; with the possible exception of expecting more out of the Port-au-Prince airport than it was ready to give within the first few days after the quake, this effort was quick, smart and timely. Pray that there will be solutions and miracles as more experts get on the ground, and begin to work in earnest. Meantime, keep making plans to give. The need will be great for several months.

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